The Traditional Board Game Series Leaflet #32: The Captain's Mistress

Readers wishing to know more about the game can begin their search by
consulting the following books.
Bell, R. C. Gomes ro Ploy, p. 47. London: Michael Joseph Limited,
Parlett, D. Tne Ox[orJ Hisrory o[ BoorJ Gomes, pp. 113-114. Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1999.
Copyright © Damian Walker 2011 -
Illusrrorion S: onorner, somewnor unli|ely,
exomple posirion. Bloc| is ro ploy. I[ ne
ploces nis piece wnere inJicoreJ, ne will
simulroneously [orm rnree lines o[ [our, ony
o[ wnicn woulJ win nim rne qome.
by Damian Walker
Board Games at CY N I N G S T A N
Traditional Board Game Series
(Second Edition)
Leaflet #32
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The Traditional Board Game Series Leaflet #32: The Captain's Mistress
The origin of this game is unknown.
It certainly dates back to about
1900, though it could be older. It is
unusual among traditional board
games in that the board is mounted
vertically, and it involves the force
of gravity in its mechanism of play.
Plenty of other old table games use
this method, for instance, boqorelle,
but among old board games it is
rare if not unique to this game.
An amusing story is that the
game is so called from the fact that
Captain Cook hid away in his cabin
for hours playing this game, his
crew supposing that he was locked
away with a mistress. Whether true
or not, it certainly gives the game a
charming name.
More concrete proof of the
game's age is given by an example
once owned by the game historian
R. C. Bell, which dated from the
Edwardian period (1901-1910). It
used wooden balls dropped into
slots in the lid of a box, as illus-
trated on the cover of this leaflet.
The outside of the box advertised
émy Martin Cognac, giving Bell
the idea that this might have origin-
ally been a pub game.
More recently Milton Bradley
published the game under its better
known name Connect 4. Milton
Bradley therefore are probably re-
sponsible for the popularity of the
game since the 1970s. Though it is
thought of as a children's game, due
to Milton Bradley's brightly col-
oured plastic board and pieces, the
game is strategic enough to be en-
joyed by adults too.
The game is played on a vertical
grid of seven columns of six rows
each. The pieces are discs or balls,
twenty-one of each colour, and the
board is so constructed hold the
pieces in place as they are dropped
from the top. In the absence of this
equipment the game can be played
Illusrrorion 1: rne empry boorJ, JisployeJ os
o qriJ.
The Traditional Board Game Series Leaflet #32: The Captain's Mistress
on a flat square grid of the same
size, observing the moves given in
these rules.
Beginning the Game
1. The board of the game starts
empty. The grid is shown in Illus-
tration 1.
2. Players decide at random
who begins. The first player takes
the twenty-one black pieces, his op-
ponent taking the white.
Placing the Pieces
3. In his turn a player drops a
piece from the top of the board into
any column that is not already full.
4. The piece drops down, or is
moved down, that column until it
reaches the bottom or is stopped by
another piece. This move is shown
in Illustration 2.
3. Once placed, a piece never
moves to another square.
6. There is no capture of pieces.
A piece played stays on the board
till the end of the game.
Ending the Game
7. If a player manages to form
his pieces into a row of four, vertic-
ally, horizontally or diagonally, the
game is over and he is declared the
winner. Examples of possible wins
are shown in Illustration 3.
8. If the board is filled without
either player making a row, then the
game is a draw.
Illusrrorion 2: on exomple posirion. Wnire is
obour ro ploce nis sixrn piece, onJ rnere is
room [or plocemenr in oll seven columns. I[
ne Joes nor ploce nis piece in rne [irsr
column, rne woy is open [or bloc| ro [orm o
line o[ [our onJ win rne qome.

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